Eardley dedicates goal to Speed

Blackpool's Neal Eardley celebrates after scoring
Blackpool's Neal Eardley celebrates after scoring
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A STUNNED Neal Eardley has dedicated his weekend wonderstrike to the late Gary Speed.

Eardley, who started Speed’s first match in charge as Wales manager, said he felt numb and empty when he heard of the 42-year-old’s death.

It brought him crashing back to earth after the high of scoring his second goal in a Blackpool shirt – a 25-yard screamer into the top corner in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Birmingham.

Eardley was delighted with that strike, but the death of Speed – announced yesterday morning – quickly put things into perspective.

The Seasiders full-back said: “It is hard to know what to say or to put into words how shocked and stunned I’m feeling. To go from scoring on the Saturday and feeling pretty pleased to having that news the next day is hard to take in.

“I started Gary’s first couple of games as manager and I was in several of his squads. When he got the job he told us what he was going to do. He made changes and he obviously got it spot on as the recent results have shown.

“Wales won four of their last five games and losing him is a massive shame, not just for his family and friends but for the whole of Welsh football because he was definitely turning things in the right direction.

“All I would like to say is that my goal against Birmingham was for him.

“I am told he was on Football Focus on Saturday and I am pretty sure he would have been following a lot of the games that were played that afternoon, including ours, because I know he liked to keep an eye on the lads who were involved in the squad.

“I’m completely gutted and I still can’t believe it.”